MP's Heart-Rending Song Will Change How You Look At Canada (VIDEO)

Posted: Updated:

Canadians like to think that the expansion into the West was more civilized here than in the United States -- this song will change that.

In "Four Horses", NDP MP Charlie Angus sings the agonizing story of John A. MacDonald's policy to starve First Nations peoples in order to make way for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s.

Angus was inspired by the book Clearing The Plains by James Daschuk, which details how food promised in Treaty No. 6 was withheld by Canadian officials in order to force aboriginals to move to appointed reserves.

At the time, MacDonald even boasted that First Nations peoples were being kept on the "verge of actual starvation" in an attempt to silence critics of the mounting cost of the railway, according to Daschuk.

MacDonald's policies were recently cited in an open letter urging the United Nations to declare Canada's treatment of its aboriginal peoples "genocide."

Angus told The Globe and Mail that MacDonald did many good things for Canada, but that we can no longer ignore "the policies that tried to destroy a people."

"Mr. Macdonald has been able to escape all that because we write our history as boring, that all our people were well-meaning and boring," Angus said to the Globe. "So that’s the whole line of the song: Forget what you were taught about the Medicine Line."

Angus, who is also a professional musician and HuffPost blogger, has been an outspoken critic of the Conservative government's approach to First Nations peoples. In 2011, he was among the first to shine light on the deplorable situation on the Attawapiskat reserve in his Northern Ontario riding. The emergency on the reserve captured the attention of the nation and is seen by many as the opening act of the Idle No More movement.

"Four Horses" is the first song off Angus' new record "Great Divide." Read all the lyrics below.

To Fort Qu'appelle came a Dapple Grey
​​​​As children coughed blood in the autumn rains
Broke the treaty when the buffalo failed
​​​And fenced the land for the CP Rail.

There's four horses at the Great Divide
Forget what they taught about the medicine line
Like a storm on a distant sky
Just four horses at the Great Divide

I saw a black horse at Cut Knife Creek
But the great Poundmaker was a man of peace
He spared the soldiers true to his word
So they hung the braves at Fort Battleford

The Third Horse danced for the Great White Chief
Hunger is lesson that is so easy to teach
Kill a warrior you need a gun in hand
To break a people you need a bureaucrat man

There's four horses at the Great Divide
Forget what they taught you about the medicine line
Like a storm on a distant sky
Four horses at the Great Divide

A pale horse waits by the mission school
Progress they say can be so cruel
But the spirit lives on across the great north plains
And people are finding their voice again.

Related on HuffPost:

Residential Schools: A Photo History
Share this
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

NDP MP releases song about John A. Macdonald's treatment of aboriginal people

NDP MP Charlie Angus - Four Horses - YouTube